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The compound came under a heavy artillery shelling by the M-109A2 155 mm guns of a nearby Israeli Defense Forces unit in response to two rocket and mortar attacks launched earlier that day (towards the unit) from nearby the compound. As a result of the shelling, 102 civilians died and more were wounded, many of them women and children, and the compound was seriously damaged.
Most of the casualties were residents of nearby villages, which sought refuge in the United Nations compound from the fierce battle going on between the IDF and Hezbollah, during Operation Grapes of Wrath . Four UN troops were also wounded.
Israel immediately expressed regret for the loss of innocent lives, saying that the UN compound was not the intended target of the shelling, but that it was hit "due to incorrect targeting based on erroneous data."
The UN investigated the incident in detail, concluding "while the possibility cannot be ruled out completely, the pattern of impacts in the Qana area makes it unlikely that the shelling of the United Nations compound was the result of technical and/or procedural errors".
A video recording made by a UNIFIL soldier showed an Israeli unmanned observation drone in the vicinity at the time of the shelling. The leaking of the recording caused considerable embarrassment to Israel, which had repeatedly denied the presence of a drone.
Operation Grapes of Wrath was halted by Israel shortly afterwards.
For many people in Lebanon, April 18 is observed as a day of memorial for the victims of the massacre.
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